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Taxi WIFI gets SA commuters connected

Local startup Sebenza says it is unlocking the digital potential of the sector.

It’s no secret that minibus taxis in South Africa are responsible for getting the majority of people to and from work each day. With hours spent in traffic or on the road, a large portion of economic activity is being lost out on – add to this the high cost of mobile data, a barrier to entry for digital economy participation. These factors contribute to many being excluded from opportunities only possible through digital connectedness. 

However, a growing player in taxi WiFi, Sebenza, is bringing robust technology infrastructure to the sector.

“Despite legacy issues of taxi WiFi offerings having not met expectations in the past, we’ve worked with our users to create a successful user-centric solution, with 500 buses and 7 000 taxis nationwide,” says Sebenza co-founder Calvin Le Mottée. 

While more than half of South Africa’s population has a smartphone, most users cannot afford data plans, according to The World Bank. Conveniently reaching people on their next commute, Sebenza has a presence on taxi routes in all nine provinces and has served 2 000 TeraBytes of mobile data since inception (equating to around R90-million in value). 

The user trends of their platform shows the stark need for such a service – after payday and when grants are paid, the usage drops between 15% to 30% – as users top up their sim cards, but it only takes about a week for the usage to increase and stabilise for the rest of the month. This shows that the mobile data commuters can afford is only a small portion of what they really need. 

A survey they ran in 2022 with close to 3 000 participants revealed that 36% spend less than R50 on data every month and 32% buy only 1GB. 

In South Africa not everyone has the same opportunity but innovations like Sebenza are making connectivity more accessible. According to Sebenza co-founder Wesley Dorning, freedom of access to the Internet should be a human right. “It is the new library, the place for news, to transact, shop,” he says.

The company’s success can in part be attributed to its positive industry relationships – from the commuter, the driver, the owner, the taxi associations, and the rank marshals. Sebenza is the preferred partner for governing body SANTACO for WiFi and other digital products and services.

Commuters can look out for the bright “free Wi-Fi Sebenza” stickers next time they travel. In order to connect, users need to find Sebenza in their Wi-Fi settings when traveling on a taxi, where they will be directed to the platform’s home page ( to register using a cell number and start enjoying the benefits. Connecting to Sebenza is completely safe and secure; it is encrypted to ensure that users’ data remains secure and private.

The digital platform offers in-platform entertainment and educational content, such as news articles, horoscopes, and various skills development short courses aimed at tweens and covering financial literacy. Access to further browsing is done through ‘SebenzaBucks’, earned through incentivised content such as brand advertising videos and surveys on the platform. 

The brand is currently running a campaign called “Khomba, Khonnecta, Sebenza”, which takes inspiration from taxi hand signals and is rewarding cash prizes to newly registered users to the platform until the end of June 2024. There are also spot prizes for most engaged users. 

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